Sunderland travelled to Sheffield Wednesday hoping to keep up the pressure on the leaders in the Womens Premier League Northern Division, but they were dealt an early blow when England international Kelly McDougall had to pull out.
The visitors showed they meant business as they pinned Wednesday back from the off and Lucy Bronze and Natalie Gutteridge went close early on. Gutteridge again tried her luck with an overhead kick before Sunderland took the lead after 14 minutes. Steph OBrien fed Nicola Devine on the left and she cleverly beat two defenders to hit the ball into the box, but the flight deceived everyone to drop into the far corner of the goal.
As the pace of the game eased the visitors looked comfortable in every department. Abby Holmes and Sarah Danby almost extended the advantage, but Sunderland were not to be denied as they added a second goal in the 35th minute. Great interplay down the left between Greenwell, Devine and Danby saw the ball whipped in for Gutteridge to power home a fine header.
HT... Sheffield Wednesday Ladies 0 vs 2 Sunderland Ladies
The second half saw Sunderland continue to ask all the questions with Bronze and Gutteridge having goal bound efforts beaten away before a Danby shot cannoned off the post following good work by Demi Stokes. The Wearsiders back four of Holmes, Bannon, Wilson and Greenwell dealt comfortably with all that Wednesday had to offer and it was the 65th minute before they managed their first attempt on goal, a 20 yard effort by Skeemer which keeper Helen Alderson caught easily.
For all Sunderlands dominance, driven on by the midfield industry of OBrien and Bronze, they could not kill the game off. The visitors were awarded a 69th minute penalty for a handball offence but Bronzes spot kick was well saved by home keeper Maslin. The Wearsiders persistence paid off, however, when a 76th minute Steph Bannon free kick was firmly headed home by Gutteridge. A Mitchell thunderbolt came back off a Sunderland post before a fine run by Vicky Greenwell fed substitute Sophie Williams who beat two defenders and hit a great cross into the middle for Holmes to crash home the fourth goal after 83 minutes. Sunderland threatened to run riot as they peppered the home goal. A Gemma Wilson header dropped agonisingly wide and the visitors almost queued up to score as Wednesday wilted. Sunderlands dominance was complete in the final minute when Bronze released Williams who went clear to calmly slot the ball home under the advancing keeper.
FT... Sheffield Wednesday Ladies 0 vs 5 Sunderland Ladies
Sunderland...Alderson, Holmes, G.Wilson, Bannon, Greenwell, Stokes, OBrien (Unwin), Bronze, Devine, Gutteridge (Atkinson), Danby (Williams).....sub not used, S.Wilson
Sunderland now lie in 3rd place, 3 points behind leaders Man City, with 2 games in hand.
Manager Mick Mulhern mused, The pitch was poor and didnt allow for our usual fluent passing game. But we managed to play as we should in the right areas. Our crossing was of the highest calibre and the fact that three of our goals came from what wed practised in training proves we are working on the right things and moving in the right direction.